“Your life story would not make a good book. Don’t even try.” – Fran Lebowtiz
Fran Lebowitz isn’t entirely wrong. And, for years, I subscribed to her thought process 100%. It wasn’t just staying away from writing a life story.
I wouldn’t share good grades at home unless I was pressed for details.
If I got a promotion at work my parents were the last to know.
And I would not make a big deal about my own birthday. After a certain age, I joined the “it’s just another day” club.
Until…one night while working in Augusta, I was staying at a friend’s house. I forget the circumstances, but my friends Thaxter & Linda Trafton figured out that it was my birthday and they forced me to go to out with them so they could treat me to dinner and a drink. Normally, I would jump at this opportunity – free dinner and drinks with friends? Hooray! But because it was my birthday, I scoffed before agreeing, reluctantly.
While at dinner, we ran into Tim Walton. He worked for Cianbro and was a fixture in the halls of the State House in Augusta. He learned from the Traftons that it was my birthday and quickly saw my “It’s just another day” mentality take over. He told me to stop it and shared a story about his daughter telling him that his birthday is his special day. She continued that he should make the most of it because you only get one special day a year…but nobody can take it away from you. It’s YOUR special day.
The wisdom of kids.
She’s right. And that stretches beyond birthdays.
As Mainers, we’re reluctant to share our successes. For most of us that were raised here or members of big families, tooting our own horns was frowned upon. With 32 first cousins in my family, there was always someone who did something first, better, more efficiently, or with more fun.
For small business owners or experts in their fields, this mindset carries over into adulthood. Yet, if you don’t celebrate you, nobody will. Mostly because they won’t hear about it.
Say you are a manager at a company where employees like to show up to work, get paid nicely, and have some success stories to tell. As a manager, perhaps this is cause to nominate your company for an award. When you win the award, put together a public relations or marketing plan to make sure people know about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Your employees will feel good about the recognition, your bosses will like the attention, and you will feel pretty good about working with such a great team.
Or if your company happened to invent something that quickly became number one in the world, go ahead and tell the story.
Individual achievements and awards are more difficult to share for the most modest among us, but there is no shame in telling the story that lead to the recognition in hopes that others can be inspired to work hard and reach high in your footsteps.
Feel uncomfortable with all of this? Go back to basics. Start with your birthday.
Hi, my name is Dan. (Hi Dan!)
My birthday was March 24th, and I sat writing this from my couch after a day of treats and presents from my lovely family, and memories I hope to never forget. And, thanks to Facebook, oodles of messages from friends and acquaintances wishing me the best. It made an old guy feel pretty good on a day that felt like nothing special before Tim Walton instilled some wisdom into me.
So celebrate your birthday, and the successes and achievements of your business and career by talking about them. We’ll enjoy hearing about them and probably get some inspiration along the way.
But heed the words of Fran Lebowitz for now and stay away from putting your life story into a book.